Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Impotence of the PLO
Wednesday's suicide attacks in Israel are the perfect illustration of the absolute lack of influence that Mahmoud Abbas holds over the militant groups in the Palestine, most notably Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Whilst Abbas has condemned the attack, and called for the disarmament of the militant groups, his appeals have carried no weight. Abbas seems to have peace in his heart, but without the militant message of Yasser Arafat -and perhaps his money- he is simply unable to stop their attacks.

Increasingly he is becoming a lame duck president, unable to be taken seriously as his state's leader and no longer recognised as the decision-maker and negotiation partner for Palestine. Sharon stated yesterday that he will no longer enter discussions with Abbas. Even worse, Egyptian President Mubarak has will meet with Hamas and Islamic Jihad without the PLO and has stated that the peace process cannot be based on the disarmament of the militant groups, thus seriously undermining Abbas' position. Sharon's decision to withdraw from Gaza in order to improve Israel's security and provide a platform for negotiations seems to have been soundly negated by the PLO's impotence.

Further, with Islamic Jihad taking a more active role in the fight against Israel, there is a distinct danger that Hamas will see the militant group as a political and ideological threat to its stature. If this occurs, we may see a marked increase in the number of attacks against Israel as Hamas tries to reassert its ideological dominance.